East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Taking a hike


Owen J. Lattimore did it the old way in Turkestan.

A few posts back, I mentioned watching the sky as a probably normal practice of ancient travelers.
Travel in the ancient world (and not so ancient, now that I think about it) was done on foot.
Even if merchandise and goods traveled on the back of camels or horses, humans normally went on foot.
Walking is a way of going that’s close to the territory, it’s slow and tiresome.
It’s something else.

Now I was talking about health, and getting back in shape (or at least try to), a few days back, with my friend Claire, and she suggested Nordic Walking as a soft, pleasant activity.
I pointed out that here, among the savage hills of Astigianistan, finding people to go hiking together might be a problem – the standard leisure activity hereabouts is sitting in front of the bar, gossiping. Continue reading


Ella K. Maillart

She was the best man of the coupple

ella and peterI met her for the first time in Peter Fleming‘s News from Tartary, in which the English journalist and adventurer relates his experiences as a happy-go-lucky traveller in Chinese Turkestan (or Sinkiang, or Xinjan, or Tartary).
There was a certain amount of curiosity, at the time – this being 1935 – about what was happening in those territories.
So off Fleming went.
And with him, went Ella “Kini” Maillart, a young Swiss woman that, according to Fleming’s account, was the true man in the outfit.
And it is not hard to believe.
Practical, organized, strong, and fearless, Maillart was the perfect companion for Fleming. Continue reading